Thanksgiving 2019. Andrea Klockow of Alpharetta, Georgia, notices the middle finger on her right hand looks really “creepy” – like a sausage. Fortunately, it goes away, and Klockow doesn’t give it much more thought.
Over the next four months, though, she starts struggling with overwhelming fatigue, sore fingers and pain in her ankles and knees. “My joints, particularly the joints in my fingers, hurt the most,” 36-year-old Klockow recalls.
March 2020. Klockow makes an appointment with a rheumatologist, who does bloodwork. It comes back inconclusive. No indication that Klockow has any kind of inflammatory disease.
Summer 2020. Klockow’s scalp begins to itch so badly that it wakes her up from a deep sleep. “I couldn’t see what was going on with my scalp, but I suspected something was up because I have always been a very sound sleeper,” she says. Klockow knows not to take all these symptoms lying down, so back to the rheumatologist she goes. This time, the rheumatologist suspects Klockow has psoriatic arthritis (PsA) and suggests she see a dermatologist.
The dermatologist examines Klockow, looks at her scalp and puts her on a biologic, which works like a charm for her itching. “Within 10 days of my first injection, I was starting to feel great,” Klockow says. The biologic doesn’t help the joint pain as much right away, but her doctors tell her to be patient. With time, it will help her PsA as well, they say. They turn out to be right about that too. “Now I have all my energy back, and my joints don’t hurt,” Klockow says happily.
PsA Can Cause Chronic Joint Pain
PsA is a chronic disease characterized by arthritic inflammation of the joints, including dactylitis and enthesis. Enthesitis is inflammation where tendons and ligaments connect to the bone, while dactylitis is inflammation of the small joints of the hands and feet. This inflammation in the hands can make fingers look like sausages, such as Klockow experienced. In addition, PsA can affect the spine, similar to ankylosing spondylitis.